The trip to 4th grade……
A few years ago, we had a long, tense and emotion filled Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. It was long….very long! I read to the team something I had written titled “Peter at 25”, and challenged us all to determine what we needed to do to reach the goals of independence. We talked a lot about what Peter needed to be able to do as an adult, where he was today, and what we needed to do to get to our goals. There was a lot of passion at the table and maybe a few damp eyes. I know everyone sitting at the table is invested in Peter, we just don’t always agree on the how of our goals.
Sitting at the end of the table was a student teacher, her eyes wide opened. I feared I was making her reconsider her career choice. At the end of the meeting she came up to me, with tears in her eyes, to thank me for giving her the honor to sit through Peter’s IEP. She said that hearing my words touched and challenged her, that she had learned more in those hours than she had through school, and that she felt that experience had redefined who she wanted to be as a teacher and the responsibility towards children on IEP’s that she had not considered before. She thanked me profusely and left me with the words “Peter is so blessed to have you as his mother, and one day I hope I get to meet Peter, and maybe teach him”.
I left that meeting and called a friend who promised to pray for the meeting to go well, and wanted to hear all about it when we were done. I remember telling her that I felt a “God wink” because the student teacher’s name was Trinity. Despite the challenge of the meeting, it put into motion changes that were needed and as a team we worked better together after it.
Last Friday I visited Peter’s 4th grade class for the first time. His teacher walked up to me and said “Catherine, Peter’s mom, do you remember me from Peter’s IEP meeting a few years ago?” I was floored as the memories flooded over me. It was Trinity. Unknown by me, she had later got a job at the school and begged to be allowed to teach Peter. Goosebumps and tears moment. She followed up with, “I want to get together as soon as possible to talk about your dreams and goals for Peter, and plan on how to make them happen”.
As Peter ran around the school, with adults and kiddos excitedly greeting him and welcoming him back, I know in my heart that he continues to be in the best place for him. We are so blessed to have a great school with dedicated individuals who care for Peter, a school where peers of all ages know him and befriend him. Now, in Peter’s world school is all about riding the big bus, PE, and recess – playing football with the big boys!
And in the midst of the excitement of family vacations and jumping back into school, I failed to send out notice earlier about our annual Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Association’s Buddy Walk. Yes….that time of the year…..our Buddy Walk is this Saturday, August 19th. Below is a link to Team Peter Bear where you can join our team as a walker, a donor, or both; and access information for the event. We sure hope you can join us!